Healthify Your Pantry

Let’s face it. There are days and weeks that are so busy that even getting to the supermarket can seem like a challenge. Stocking up on healthy pantry items that have a longer then average shelf life can be a lifesaver when things get too busy or when you need an on-hand addition to an already fabulous meal. Stock up on these foods and use them as your go-to staples when you want a well-balanced meal that wows.

Black Beans

A powerhouse of protein and fiber, black beans can be used to make soup, dips, and spreads, and they are a delicious addition to any salad. I prefer using the dried beans as opposed to the canned beans so that I can control the level of salt and cooking preferences. When I am super crunched for time, however, I will rinse the canned version under cold water for ten seconds to reduce the sodium and the slightly metallic taste. Other great beans to keep on hand are lentils, kidney beans and chickpeas.


Not only do they tantalize your taste, but spices are composed of a variety of phytonutrients, antioxidants and vitamins that are essential to your overall health. My favorites are turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, cayenne pepper and ginger. I add turmeric, garlic and some cayenne to almost every soup, stew or hot food I prepare, and I use cinnamon and ginger to enhance teas and after dinner treats. Ground spices can last for up to three years.


Yes, although quinoa is a plant, it is a complete protein. It provides a boost of energy and will satisfy hunger in the same way that meat would but without the fat. It takes less than 15 minutes to prepare and is a satiating addition to just about any meal. Try it on its own or in addition to sautéed vegetables, soups, stews, spreads and, my personal favorite, salads.

Brown Rice Noodles

A healthy pasta alternative to its white counterpart and free of wheat or gluten, brown rice noodles are perfect for anyone with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. Use these as a substitution in all your pasta and noodle dishes, and indulge in the delicious flavors and health benefits.

Crushed tomatoes

Rich in flavor and amped up in the antioxidant lycopene, crushed tomatoes are extremely useful for creating vitamin-rich foods. Add to homemade whole-wheat pizzas, soups and sauces. Opt for the no-salt added versions when possible.

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Gotta love those healthy fats. A natural antioxidant that is a staple in the Mediterranean diet, EVOO reduces the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Take note that this type of oil does not have a high smoke point and is better as a drizzle for salads, dips and other cold foods, so resist the urge to cook with it.


Always a convenient and energy-boosting go-to snack, nuts have a large amounts of protein, fiber, calcium and other nutrients. Almonds are heart-healthy and packed with the most fiber and protein of all nuts. Ground nuts are a tasty and healthy alternative to breadcrumbs and an excellent substitution for flour in baked goods. Nuts can be stored in the freezer for up to one year.

Take this list with you the next time you go to the supermarket and reap the benefits for weeks and months to come.

Written for Long Island Weekly. See the original article here.